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Chivas Makaroplos: Making Fermilab Feel Like Home

Chivas Makaroplos

Chivas Makaroplos.

When Chivas Makaroplos came to Fermilab 11 years ago, she intended to stay for one year. Now she doesn't want to leave. "This place is incredible. It just grows on you," said Makaroplos. "I've made it my home."

And Makaroplos has made the Users' Center home for many people at Fermilab.

The Users' Center opened in the summer of 1973 to offer scientists new to Fermilab and their families a place to mingle, grab a drink and a bite to eat and enjoy a little recreation without having to leave the site.

Makaroplos, who also cooks for Chez Leon, keeps available tasty treats, decorations for holidays, a cozy fire and an ear to homesick graduate students.

"She has the perfect personality for the job," said Rob Roser, CDF co-spokesman. "She's everybody's best friend in an instant."

Roser and other CDF collaborators have been gathering at the Users' Center on Friday nights for several years. They've solved many problems over beers, he said. "You'll hear a lot of physics being spoken there," he added. "It's a way to brainstorm."

Many students have acknowledged Makaroplos in their theses, and one student from Japan said she was like his parent while in the U.S.

Makaroplos, 66, calls herself a "den mother.", She goes out of her way to get to know everyone who stops in and make them feel welcome. Keeping the Users' Center inviting strengthens the laboratory's community feel and gives people from different experiments and buildings across the property chance to met and interact.

Makaroplos' positive effect on people is evident by the glass cabinet in the center filled with souvenirs from around the world, given to her by former Fermilab users and employees. She also has an open invitation to visit many people.

"I don't feel like there's a place in the world I cannot go," Makaroplos said. "The physics world is very small. It's just like having one large family."